The knowledge of Brahman

The knowledge of Brahman

By SWAMI SHANTATMANANDA | 27 May, 2017

Devotees who were true Sadhakas would often ask Sri Ramakrishna as to how to attain the knowledge of Brahman. In the traditional schools of Advaita the only path that is suggested is Vichara or discrimination between the real and unreal. One has to constantly discriminate stating that what is experienced is not Brahman. This is called the path of ‘Neti Neti’ or not this, not this. Thus by constantly negating that it is not Brahman it is said that ultimately one gains the knowledge of Brahman. But, this is an extremely difficult path. How can those who are body-minded discriminate their experiences as unreal? Such a practice is valid only for a select few. Most of the Sadhakas who constantly struggle with the idea of identifying with the body and mind find it extremely difficult. We live in the world of senses and all our experiences are gathered through sense organs. It is very difficult to negate them as unreal. Even our Sadhana or spiritual striving would become meaningless if it is to be negated as unreal. But, Sri Ramakrishna suggests a beautiful, unique and alternative method. He would say, “Pray to Brahman with attributes, who listens to your prayers, and He Himself will give you full Knowledge of Brahman; for that which is Brahman with attributes is verily Brahman without attributes, that which is Brahman is verily Sakti. One realizes this non-duality after the attainment of Perfect Knowledge.” What does Sri Ramakrishna mean here? He says that reality has two aspects like the obverse and reverse of a coin. The same reality or Brahman without attributes which is realized as non-dual reality is experienced as reality with attributes and is worshipped as Rama, Krishna, Durga, Kali, etc. It is easier for Sadhakas to relate to the reality with attributes. He says by taking recourse to the reality with attributes one ultimately realizes the reality without attributes i.e. one realizes Brahman. 

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